Saheli*: Musings and Observations
Thursday, May 11, 2006
 
SAVE CODY'S

I have just found out that Cody's Books on Telegraph is scheduled to close in two months and I am beyond distraught. I went there on my first day in Northern California, years and years ago, visiting with my parents. I can still remember the bright sight of flowers in front of a bookstore. I've probably bought the overwhelming majority of my books there, and certainly almost all of my non textbook hardcovers. Almost every author reading I've been to was there. I've discovered most of my favorite poets there. When I was in college I would, for the sake of grades, avoid bookstores for most of the semester. When I handed in my last final, I would run straight to Cody's, money in hand, and luxuriate there for the rest of the day, carefully choosing and stacking my vacation treasure. I can walk up to the customer service people and babble about some book, neither title nor author in hand, and 95% of the time, they'll find it. When we started bombing Iraq I curled up in a chair upstairs and listened to Pico Iyer's soothing voice and prayed. I really, really don't want to lose it.

If you have any ideas, please let me know. Seriously.

UPDATE: What the hell? Ruchira is telling me she's not seeing my level of alarm anywhere else. The Fourth Street store is staying open, so people are nonchalant. WHAT THE HELL? The Fourth Street store is great if you're looking for stuff on art or textiles, or want hand crafted paper. Fine. I met Oscar the Grouch there and that was cool. I got an education about Nantali Finland by a cashier once. But there is NO COMPARISON with Telegraph. Former Presidents and Senators aren't enticed to Fourth Street. You can't pack a room with people interested in science policy at Fourth Street. The Fourth Street store wasn't bombed for stocking Rushdie. Howl wasn't written across the street from the Fourth Street store. Dustin Hoffman didn't stop Elaine Robinson on the bus on Fourth Street! You can't buy music at late hours near Fourth Street, or sell records, or rummage through vintage clothes, or get the best damn feta-almond-spinach-fuji salad in California! You can't go to an author reading and then grab take out and eat dinner under the stars in a Redwood grove, or off in a plaza filled with vendors! IT's NOT THE SAME!

I mean, not to put too fine a point on it, but Fourth Street is Yuppie central. Now I probably qualify as something of a yuppie--though certainly not because of my wages--but that's the whole point. I don't NEED my whole universe to blandified into a well-designed set of tasteful, pleasant landscapes where everyone is just like me. Cody's on Telegraph is connected to the street. Cody's lets you loiter in the front and talk to people. Cody's lets street poets and homeless guys set up tables in front of the store. How many truly great bookstores--bookstores that great authors from all over the world carefully pen into their tour calendars--are so perfectly at the intersection of art, science, wealth, and poverty? I imagine there are some in Boston and NYC. I've always wanted to visit Powells--seriously, that's like the main reason I want to go to Portland. Well this is ours.

Update II: Non Berkeley-Friends who are trying be sympathetic and comforting have all kinds of sage observations about market forces and the nature of nostalgia. My initial reaction above reached into sentiment and nostalgia, but this is not a sentimental, nostalgic problem. It's not even about saving ambiance. This is a community disaster. Cody's Telegraph is one of a very small number of Bay Area bookstores that regularly hosts authors of new, cutting edge journalism, policy and science-writing. One knocked off the list will make the Bay Area one less plausible stop for a cash-strapped book tour, and non-trivially dents the chances that any given author will visit the area or spend a reasonable amount of time here. That means less opportunities to to be a guest on shows like KQED's Forum, less opportunities to be interviewed by local papers (and relate their writing to local issues), less reasons to speak at the Commonwealth Club or the World affairs Council. Less discussion. Less purchasing. Fewer books. Less journalism. Less democracy.

I really don't mean to dis the Fourth Street Store. I like it a lot and I've been to some very lovely literary readings there. I also like the new San Francisco store a lot. But you can't get to Fourth Street by BART, and San Francisco is very far away from a large portion of the Bay Area. Ten years ago I was a frequently broke, carless teenager who lived in Concord. Get rid of Cody's and you get rid of most of that teenager's opportunities to interact with the wide world of books and authors and adults who like to read about serious topics. I was lucky in that my parents are great lovers of books--if they wanted to treat me, they would take me to Cody's, and I'm sure if it had been necessary, they would have let me go to San Francisco. Not everyone is that lucky.

Cody's also anchors the street. Apparently Telegraph's increasingly unruly crowd is what's driving it out in the first place, but Cody's going will make the problem ten times worse. An abandoned Telegraph avenue is bad for the University--and I don't mean the dry institution that's often mismanaged by the regents, I mean the living community of people who work had to provide the best public higher education.

The owner, Andy Ross, doesn't seem to feel that this incarnation of the store can be saved, and I am sure he hasn't made this decision lightly. Right now I'm wondering about two options--can the store be moved to the Downtown Shattuck area, which has been experiencing a Rennaissance of book culture, and isn't quite as unruly? Or, can someone else buy the Telegraph store and keep it open?

The East Bay really should not lose its premier forum for the discussion of new writing, especially new nonfiction.
 


<< Home
Saheli Datta started this when she was a journalism student at Columbia in New York. Now she lives in the Bay Area. *Old people call me R. New people, call me Saheli. Thanks! My homepage. Specifically, my links. Email me: Saheli [AT] Gmail [dot] Com

ATOM FEED



Spring 2006: Guest Bloggers!
Colin!
Rishi | Scott | Emily
Echan | Robert | ToastyKen

MAIN:ssrdatta.blogspot.com
Email me!
Ways to help the Tsunami Victims Here

Want this badge?

ARCHIVES
01/01/2003 - 02/01/2003 / 09/01/2003 - 10/01/2003 / 10/01/2003 - 11/01/2003 / 11/01/2003 - 12/01/2003 / 12/01/2003 - 01/01/2004 / 01/01/2004 - 02/01/2004 / 02/01/2004 - 03/01/2004 / 03/01/2004 - 04/01/2004 / 04/01/2004 - 05/01/2004 / 05/01/2004 - 06/01/2004 / 06/01/2004 - 07/01/2004 / 07/01/2004 - 08/01/2004 / 08/01/2004 - 09/01/2004 / 09/01/2004 - 10/01/2004 / 10/01/2004 - 11/01/2004 / 11/01/2004 - 12/01/2004 / 12/01/2004 - 01/01/2005 / 01/01/2005 - 02/01/2005 / 02/01/2005 - 03/01/2005 / 03/01/2005 - 04/01/2005 / 04/01/2005 - 05/01/2005 / 05/01/2005 - 06/01/2005 / 06/01/2005 - 07/01/2005 / 07/01/2005 - 08/01/2005 / 08/01/2005 - 09/01/2005 / 09/01/2005 - 10/01/2005 / 10/01/2005 - 11/01/2005 / 11/01/2005 - 12/01/2005 / 12/01/2005 - 01/01/2006 / 01/01/2006 - 02/01/2006 / 02/01/2006 - 03/01/2006 / 03/01/2006 - 04/01/2006 / 04/01/2006 - 05/01/2006 / 05/01/2006 - 06/01/2006 / 06/01/2006 - 07/01/2006 / 07/01/2006 - 08/01/2006 / 08/01/2006 - 09/01/2006 / 09/01/2006 - 10/01/2006 / 10/01/2006 - 11/01/2006 / 05/01/2010 - 06/01/2010 / 09/01/2014 - 10/01/2014 /


Blogs I Read (Or Try To)
113th Street
american footprints(Nadezhda & Praktike)
ANNA's Diary
Apartment Therapy
Armchair Generalist
Back To Iraq 3.0 (Chris Albritton)
Dave Barry
The Bellman
Mine's On The 45 (Brimful)
Campaign Desk (CJR)
ChennaiCentral
ClimateBoy
Combing the Sphere
Crooked Timber
Daily Dose of Imagery
The Daily Rhino (Bong Breaker)
Dark Days Ahead
The Decembrist
Brad DeLong
Atanu Dey on India's Development (Deeshaa)
Daniel Drezner
Ennis
Ephemera
Cyrus Farivar
Finding My Voice
Forsv
Neil Gaiman
Ganesh Blog
Geeky Chic 2.0 (Echan)
Geomblog
Green Ink!
Heliolith
Alexandra Huddleston
Iddybud (Jude Nagurney Camwell)
Indeterminacy
India Uncut
InSpiteOfEverything
Intel Dump: Phillip Carter et al
The Intersection (Chris Mooney)
Jesus Politics
John and Belle Have a Blog
Mark A. R. Kleiman
KnowProse (Taran Rampersad)
1Locana
Maenad (Nori Heikkinen)
Scott McCloud
Mind Without Borders
Electrolite: Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Hayden
Corey Pein
Political Animal(Kevin Drum, formerly Calpundit)
Kevin G. Powell
QuakeHelp (South Asian Quake)
Radiation Persuasion (Nick)
Reneebop
Rhinocrisy
Scott Rosenberg(Salon.com)
Rox Populi
Felix(&Rhian)Salmon
samVaad
Nick Schager
Idea Spout: Daniel Sanchez
Sepia Mutiny
Amardeep Singh
Snarkmarket (Robin Sloan & Matt Thompson)
South-East Asian Earthquake and Tsunami Blog
SreeTips: New To Sree
Steprous (Bear)
Robert Stribley
Subjunctive.net:klog
Talking Points Memo: Joshua Micah Marshall
Tech Policy
TiffinBox
A Tiny Revolution
To The Teeth
TreeHugger
Unfogged
VatulBlog
Venk@
Manish Vij
Vinod's Blog
War and Piece
Nollind Whachell
Wonkette
WorldChanging
Matthew Yglesias:Old
Yglesias:Tpmcafe
Zoo Station:Reuben Abraham
Ethan Zuckerman
Zwichenzug



Some Categories

Blogs focusing on policy, politics, and national security:
Armchair Generalist
Back To Iraq 3.0 (Chris Albritton)
The Decembrist
Brad DeLong
Daniel Drezner
Eschaton(Atrios)
Green Ink!
Iddybud (Jude Nagurney Camwell)
Idea Spout: Daniel Sanchez
Informed Comment: Juan Cole
Intel Dump: Phillip Carter
The Intersection (Chris Mooney)
Irregular Analyses
Jesus Politics
Mark A. R. Kleiman
Liberals Against Terrorism(Nadezhda & Praktike)
Political Animal(Kevin Drum, formerly Calpundit)
Talking Points Memo: Joshua Micah Marshall
War and Piece
Wonkette
Yglesias:Tpmcafe

Photo Blogs
Daily Dose of Imagery
Ephemera
Alexandra Huddleston
Radiation Persuasion (Nick)
TiffinBox

Columbia Journalism Folks
Apartment Therapy
Back To Iraq 3.0 (Chris Albritton)
Campaign Desk (CJR)
Ranajit Dam
Cyrus Farivar
Alexandra Huddleston
InSpiteOfEverything
Corey Pein
Nick Schager
Zoo Station:Reuben Abraham

Literature, Fiction and Entertainment
Dave Barry
Neil Gaiman
Electrolite: Patrick Nielsen Hayden
Scott McCloud


A Note on Comments
Haloscan is not very good at counting comments. If a comment thread is more than three months old, and you think there might be comments, please click the comments link even if it indicates zero comments. It won't display the true count properly. Thanks!


A note on permalinks
I find that a lot of people don't know about permalinks. When you want to have someone read a specific blog entry, then you should find that blog entry's permalink, click on that, and send them the resulting browser address. Otherwise they will just be sent to the blog in general, and between your reading the blog entry and your correspondent's or audience's getting to it, a whole slew of material may have pushed the entry off the front page. In this blog, the permalinks are the timestamp at the end of the entry. (Feel free to frequently send your friends and family permalinks from my blog!)







Weblog Commenting and Trackback by 
HaloScan.com Powered by Blogger